The Gospel in Galatians - Sample
Sample pages of Sacra Script's Bible study on the Book of Galatians.
The Gospel in Galatians Living like God is for sale? Contributors Carlos Astorga, Th.M. Rhome van Dyck, Th.M. S. Jonathan Murphy, Ph.D. Vanessa van Dyck, M.Ed., M.A.[BS] Field Notes a journal of exploration and discovery The Gospel in Galatians: Living like God is for sale? Field Notes Copyright ÂŠ 2012 Sacra Script Ministries Published by: Sacra Script Ministries 2001 West Plano Parkway, Suite 1010, Plano, TX 75075 www.SacraScript.org Printed in the United States of America All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of Sacra Script Ministries. 0612.1 For comments, corrections or suggestions, email us at comments@SacraScript.org Find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SacraScriptMinistries or Twitter at www.twitter.com/sacrascript The Purpose of Sacra Script __________________________________________ In the book of Acts chapter 8, Philip was prompted by the Holy Spirit to catch up with an Ethiopian eunuch reading from Isaiah 53 in his chariot. Philip asked the eunuch if he understood what he was reading. The eunuch replied, “How could I unless someone explains it to me?” The experience of the eunuch is common to most people. Just like Philip, Sacra Script’s goal is to explain Scripture in light of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Sacra Script creative team includes gifted pastor-teachers and biblical educators. We seek to explain the Bible within the context in which it was written and help you learn the necessary skills for application. We have also designed exercises and study questions to help you remember and respond to what you have learned so that your Bible study does not end at information but transformation. We have carefully included many different tools to help you understand God’s Word. These Field Notes include detailed written explanations, outlines, word studies, pictures, notes, illustrations, maps, and timelines in order to capture the meaning of the text in its ancient context. As a result, this book is part guide, part atlas, part Bible dictionary, part history, and part student workbook. Whether you have never opened the Bible or are seasoned in the faith, these Field Notes provide integrated learning of the Bible. Our resources also include an Expedition Guide for pastors, teachers, and facilitators which utilize additional notes, references, and teaching aids. Video and audio versions designed to better engage visual and auditory learners are also available. Lastly, a digital version guides the student through the biblical text online or through a variety of media technologies. At Sacra Script our prayer is that through the study of God’s Word and the aid of the Holy Spirit you would come to comprehend and apply the Bible. God gave us his word so that we can understand his will. He wants us to be informed about, and involved in, his plan for the ages. This plan for the ages is a gospel plan; it is good news. The gospel is that eternal life with God is made available by God. It is offered only through the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whose death and resurrection alone satisfies God’s wrath toward sin. You can receive God’s forgiveness and be assured of eternal life by trusting in Jesus Christ. This is good news. This is the gospel, and all of Scripture points to it. for more information visit www.SacraScript.org Law Old Testament Scrolls History Poetry Major Prophets Minor Prophets xii New Testament Scrolls Gospels History Paulâ€™s Letters General Letters Prophecy xiii H How does this book work? Field Notes Introduction Black Sea BITHYNIA Ancyra G A L AT I A ASIA CAPPADOCIA Antioch in Pisidia Iconium LYC I A LY C A O N I A Lystra CILICIA Derbe Perga Tarsus Attalia Seleucia SYRIA Mediterranean Sea CYPRUS Paphos The Setting of Galatians Paul’s letter to the Galatians was probably addressed to the churches he planted on his first missionary journey recorded in Acts 13–14. Paul was most likely writing from his home church in Antioch in Syria before the Jerusalem council had convened. xiv Antioch in Syria Salamis Survey the Land Galatians Corrupting the gospel is an age-old tendency Field Study 1 Introduction Field study 1 Previewing Galatians 1–2 Defending the true Gospel 3–4 The Gospel: How one becomes a Christian 5–6 The Gospel: How one lives as a Christian __________________________________________ Why should we study Galatians? The Christian message offers truth and hope to the human despair. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the good news that eternal life with the only true God is available. God’s good news is an offer of eternal life with him. It comes by his grace through faith in Jesus Christ as a gift to be received. However, it’s only available on his terms. God alone determines how he will be pleased. Only then is his holiness upheld. Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1865 The human heart longs for salvation. Though we are good at numbing this desire with comfortable housing, prestigious jobs, and pleasurable distractions, in our most honest moments we are certain that things are not right. Life is not as it should be. This has always been mankind’s dilemma. The history of humanity is one on bended knees and outstretched arms; we’ve been busy trying to invoke, appease, and satisfy whoever and whatever we deem as god. Mankind Calling Out There have been many religions that have promoted various ways to various gods. Mankind Longing for Salvation All people from all civilizations desire eternality. Claude Renault, 2006 Yet, another dilemma remains and plagues Christianity across the globe. Why are Christians prone to live as if God’s gift of salvation is insufficient? Why do we act as if we must purchase his ongoing love? Why do we drift into living the Christian life as though acceptance before God can be earned? We affirm that salvation comes from him alone, but our daily walk suggests his gift is incomplete until we step in. We think he needs us to finish the job. Sadly, too many Christians live as though God can be bought with actions—it’s as though he is 1 S Survey the Land Field study 1 Galatians Corrupting the gospel is an age-old tendency continually for sale. The Christian must live responsibly and morally because God desires this lifestyle. Going to church, taking communion, and tithing are God-honoring Christian practices, but not if we think they earn us favor before him. Living the Christian life as if God can be satisfied by a combination of faith in Jesus plus good works signals an ignorance or rejection of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is an old problem, which the letter of Galatians dealt with a long time ago. The gospel according to God had been under attack among the churches of Galatia, that is, among Christians. It is the same today. Too many believers live life as though Christ’s work on the cross is not enough. We accept the gospel of God’s grace, yet mix it with our own merits. However, God will not accept this and Galatians makes it very clear. We long for God but despite our repeated attempts, he cannot, and need not be bought, bribed, or earned. The book of Galatians clearly defines God’s gospel terms. In doing so, we are offered much needed guidance on how to live the Christian life. Let’s now explore this work together. We will not only learn what the gospel is but also how to live it out as God intended. What is the background to our story? It is essential for us to do a brief study of the history of humanity and its tendency to add to the gospel. This will highlight for us how ancient this dilemma is and it will set us up for understanding its manifestation in Galatians. Adam and Eve James Tissot, 1902 The first human beings, Adam and Eve, instantly knew they were separated from God due to their sin. Ashamed by their nakedness, they tried to fix the situation themselves. B.C. 2000 1850 2091 God calls Abraham? 2 1925 God calls Abraham? Mankind’s longing for salvation has always been matched by attempts to attain it on our own. Our efforts at self-salvation run deep, as early as the account of our first ancestors Adam and Eve in Genesis 3. When the first man and woman sinned, they instantly became aware of their condition and tried to cover their shame by stitching a few leaves together. Moreover, their Genesis 3:7 son Cain was no different. He Then the eyes of both thought he could of them were opened, and they knew they were naked; satisfy God so they sowed fig leaves with a basket of together and made coverings fruit despite the for themselves. condition of his heart. 1700 1550 1400 Receiving the Law on Mount Sinai? 1446 Receiving the Law on Mount Sinai? 1260 1250 Survey the Land Galatians Field study 1 Wof the ground. But Abel brought of the firstborn of his flock. And hen it was time, Cain brought an offering to the LORD of the fruit Hebrews 10:1, 4, 11 The greatest example of this self-saving mindset was sustained for centuries by God’s chosen people, Israel. They lived as if they alone, among the nations, deserved God even though he called and rescued them from bondage by his grace.1 God granted them the law, the feasts, and the sacrificial system but these were gifts that were to remind Israel to live by faith in him. They wrongly used these as though by them they earned a right to God.2 It was a mindset that assumed God’s salvation could be earned, impressed, and satisfied by man’s own efforts or good deeds. God had reached out by grace to Isaiah 1:11 save a powerless humanity. “Of what importance are your However, the Israelites came many sacrifices to me?” says the to believe that through their LORD. “I have more than enough religious efforts they had the of burnt offerings of rams and the power to buy life with God. It fat portions of well-fed cattle. The blood of bulls, lambs, and goats, I appeared as if God rewarded take no pleasure in.” man’s lifestyle with salvation. God did expect Sabbath observance, circumcision, and obedience to the law in Israel but only as expressions of a heart of faith in anticipation of the Messiah. T he law is but a shadow of the good things to come but not the reality itself, and therefore is completely unable, by the same sacrifices offered up continually, year after year, to make perfect those who draw near to worship. And every priest stands daily ministering, repeatedly offering the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. In the New Testament, the Gospels also testify to man’s longing for deliverance as well as his tendency toward self-salvation. Jesus walked Saul becomes king 1050 David becomes king 1010 Solomon becomes king 971 950 Cain and Abel The account of Cain and Abel in Genesis 4 exposes the condition of Cain’s heart toward God as the underlying reason for God’s rejection of his offering. God called Cain to turn from his impending sin but Cain rebelled and murdered his own brother. High Priest Offering a Sacrifice The religious ceremonies and practices of Israel, like the sacrificial system, were intended to be Godsanctioned ways through which the people could express their faith in God. The Badges of Judaism For the blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sins. 1. Deuteronomy 7:1–11 2. Romans 9:1–5, 30–33 1250 1100 Preceptive Illustrations of the Bible, 1800’s the LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering but with Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain became very angry and his face was downcast. Treasures of the Bible, 1894 Genesis 4:3–5 Corrupting p g the gospel p is an age age-old g old tendency tend 800 930 The kingdom divides The badges of Judaism were circumcision, Sabbath observance, and purity laws. Gentiles who desired a share in God had to become Jews. They were to embrace these badges. They were to do something to earn a right to God. 650 722 Northern kingdom falls to Assyria Southern kingdom falls to 586 Babylon and the temple is destroyed 500 B.C. 3 S Survey the Land Field study 1 Jesus’ attack on how Judaism used the law generated much antagonism against him. Sabbath observance, for example, was one that kept emerging. Jesus often healed on the Sabbath to intentionally provoke a response. It gave him the opportunity to correct the misunderstanding (see Mark 2:23–3:6). The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5–7 also contrasts Jesus’ interpretation of God’s law with what was offered by the Judaism of the first century. in a Jewish world that understood that only a religious lifestyle would satisfy God. It was believed that perfect obedience to the law made one a good Jew—one who could hold his head high before God. Non-Jews or Gentiles could be right before God as well, but only by becoming Jews! Luke 2:29–31 Rembrandt van Rijn, 1631 What Makes a Good Jew? Galatians Corrupting the gospel is an age-old tendency Simeon in the Temple Now Lord, according to Even at the time when the sacrificial system was still in operation, we find in the Temple, men such as Simeon who understood that living under the law was not their final hope. These few godly men anticipated the consummation of God’s promises in the coming Messiah. See Luke 2:22–35. your word let your servant depart in peace, for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples... Who wrote this book? Valentin de Boulogne, 16th century The apostle Paul wrote the letter of Galatians. The authorship of the letter is so well established that it is often used by scholars as a gauge to determine whether other epistles are from Paul. Paul Writing His Epistles Many scholars believe that Paul wrote the letter to the Galatian churches from his home church at Antioch in Syria. The apostle played a significant role in the early church. God used him like no other man in the spread of the gospel to gentile lands as God stated in Acts 1:8. He was also the divine instrument chosen to interpret and explain all that was previously promised by God Acts 1:8 in Scripture and the way it was But you will receive power fulfilled in Jesus Christ. when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. Paul was first introduced in the Bible as Saul. He was a Jew born in the gentile city of Tarsus; a Pharisee trained by the best teacher, Gamaliel, and a man unmatched regarding his zeal and devotion to the Jewish faith. In God’s sovereign providence however, Christ called him when on route to persecute the church in the city of Damascus. From that point on, he devoted his life to Christ with even greater zeal and passion. The law-abiding Pharisee was reborn and eventually became known as the apostle Paul. His life is a perfect example of the message he sought to communicate in the letter to the Galatians. B.C. 1 A.D. 10 5? Birth of Jesus 4 20 30 John the Baptist begins his ministry 28–29? 4–6? Birth of Paul Jesus begins his ministry 28–30? Jesus is crucified and resurrected 30–33? 40 33–34? 50 Paul encounters Christ First Missionary 46–47? on Damascus road Journey by Paul Paul writes Galatians 48? Galatians Corrupting the gospel is an age-old tendency Survey the Land Field study 1 The Church at Antioch Todd Bolen, www.BiblePlaces.com The church of Antioch was founded by Christians who left Jerusalem due to the persecutions by Saul following the death of Stephen (Acts 11:19). It soon became the hub of Gentile Christianity and eventually surpassed the church in Jerusalem as the leading church in the first century. This growth was fueled by the multitude of Gentile conversions, the fall of Jerusalem to the Romans in A.D. 66–70, and the missionary passion of this church. Antioch on the Orontes Today the ancient city of Antioch of Syria is the modern Turkish city of Antakya. At the time of Paul, Antioch rivaled Alexandria in Egypt in importance. The church flourished there and Antioch became known as the cradle of Christianity. What was going on at the time? The Christian church sprung from Jewish roots in the first century. Once Christ came, Christianity emerged as the natural offspring of a Jewish faith awaiting his arrival. As the gospel of Jesus Christ spread from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth, the church transitioned from a predominantly Jewish to a Jewish-Gentile constituency just as God had desired. It was a period of excitement and some confusion as a baby church learned about life with God within the framework of a new age. Acts 13–14 record the account of Paul’s first missionary journey with Barnabas. They traveled throughout Cyprus and into the southern areas of Asia Minor in modern day Turkey. Visiting town after town, they preached the gospel and planted churches. Upon return to their home church in Antioch, Paul received news that other teachers had visited these churches after him. They confused the Gentile believers with a different message. These false teachers proclaimed a gospel with Jewish conditions attached—after all, Christianity had Jewish roots. The law had played a major role in the 50 60 Paul arrives in Rome 49? Jerusalem Council 60–62? under house arrest Second Missionary 50–52? Journey by Paul 64 Fire in Rome 70 80 70 Temple is destroyed 79 A False Gospel For a portrait of the type of gospel the false preachers proclaimed in Galatia consider the following Galatian passages: • On circumcision (2:3; 5:2, 3; 6:12, 13) • On life according to Jewish customs and calendars (2:14; 4:10) • On observing the law (2:16; 3:2, 5, 10, 11; 5:4) Discrediting Paul A common way of promoting a point was to damage the credibility of the opposing party. It is called an ad hominem attack—an attempt to shame a person to discredit his or her message. Many political campaigns use this strategy today. In light of Paul’s counter argument in Galatians 1–2, the false teachers were clearly attacking Paul in this way. 90 John writes Revelation 95–96? Pompeii and Herculaneum are destroyed by Vesuvius eruption 100 A.D. 5 S Survey the Land Field study 1 Black Sea BITHYNIA Ancyra G A L AT I A ASIA CAPPADOCIA Antioch in Pisidia Iconium LYC I A LY C A O N I A Lystra CILICIA Derbe Perga Tarsus Attalia Seleucia Antioch in Syria SYRIA Mediterranean Sea CYPRUS Salamis Paphos Map of the Galatian Region On this map, Galatia is the large Roman province encapsulating many different people groups. The Southern Galatian Theory suggests that cities like Antioch, Lystra, Iconium, and Derbe, in the southern province of Roman Galatia, are the recipients of the letter. The North Galatian Theory proposes the letter is written to an ethnic group, the Galatians, in the northern part of this map but we do not have any biblical references mentioning any northern cities. Galatians Corrupting the gospel is an age-old tendency history of God’s dealings with man so far. These Judaizers argued salvation was incomplete if one did not embrace the Jewish lifestyle. They taught that faith in Jesus was essential, but only in partnership with adherence to the law— particularly circumcision. These Judaizers would even quote the Hebrew Scriptures to support their position. To advance their point, Paul’s character and credibility was undermined. These false teachers claimed Paul left the Galatians only partly evangelized! Their strategy was effective. The Galatian believers were rapidly deserting Paul and his gospel. This false teaching set human works on equal footing with God’s work in Jesus Christ on the cross. It was a subtle deviation from the true gospel coated in biblical language; a contemporary expression within the church of that age-old tendency for man to try to save himself. Even in the early days of the church, the tendency toward self-salvation quickly emerged. Paul knew this was insulting to God and dangerous for man. Who was the audience? The letter of Galatians is written to a group of churches located in Galatia. The most important thing to note is that the letter is written to Christians. The identity of the Galatians however, is a disputed issue. The problem is that the term Galatia or Galatian was used in two distinct ways in ancient society. At times, it was used in the ethnic sense, referring to a specific people group living in a very specific region in northern Asia Minor. This ancient Celtic Kingdom had been under Roman rule since Pompey had captured it in the mid-first century B.C. On other occasions, Galatia was used in a political sense by the Romans, referring to a much larger political province and all peoples within it. This province of Galatia included southern regions of Asia Minor, which was home to many different people groups. If the term Galatians is being used in the ethnic sense, then the letter was written at some point after Paul’s second missionary journey to allow for his visit to this specific region. This is after Acts 16:6 or Acts 18:23, but is not recorded in detail in the book of Acts. In this case, the writing would be after the Jerusalem Council’s decision in A.D. 40 42 44 46 Paul’s First Missionary Journey 46–47? 6 48 Jerusalem Council 49? Paul writes Galatians (South Galatian Theory) 48? 50 Galatians Survey the Land Field study 1 Todd Bolen, www.BiblePlaces.com Corrupting the gospel is an age-old tendency Ruins of the Church of St. Paul at Pisidian Antioch In Acts 13 Paul and Barnabas first arrive at Antioch in Pisidia to preach the gospel. Today, there are remains of a church building there, built several centuries after Paul’s arrival, but demonstrating the lasting impact of Christ’s message. According to the South Galatian theory, this would have been a church that Galatians was written to. Acts 15. This is called the North Galatian Theory. On the other hand, if Galatians is used in the political sense of the Roman province, the letter could have been written immediately after Paul’s first missionary journey to the Galatian cities recorded and detailed in Acts 13–14. This is known as the South Galatian Theory. In this case, the letter was written before the Jerusalem Council recorded in Acts 15 and would explain why Paul never mentions it. Good arguments are made for either option and the matter is not settled. Our study follows the South Galatian Theory particularly because of the decision made at the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15. There the church leadership unanimously declared and disseminated the same position Paul advances in the letter of Galatians. It is hard to believe Paul would not appeal to the Council’s decision when his letter deals with the very same issue. It certainly would have helped settle the matter. When did this happen? The date of the writing of Galatians is clearly based on the location of these churches. If we follow the North Galatian theory, this would imply a date sometime around A.D. 53–57. On the other hand, if 50 52 54 53–57? 56 58 60 A.D. Paul writes Galatians (North Galatian Theory) 7 S Survey the Land Field study 1 Ancient Letters Ancient letters followed an established format. These are some of the major features they included: 1. Introduction: The introduction named the writer and recipient. It contained a greeting and either a word of thanksgiving, or a prayer of thanksgiving. 2. Main body: The main body of the letter dealt with the issue that caused the letter to be written. 3. Conclusion: The conclusion expressed final greetings, perhaps a description of how the letter was written—with the assistance of a scribe or not—and a benediction. The Sacrifice of Lystra In the Galatian town of Lystra, Paul healed a man who was lame from birth (Acts 14:8–18). The people thought that Paul and Barnabas were gods and wanted to offer sacrifices to them but they tore their clothes in protest stating that they were merely men and it was the Creator God who was the source of power. Galatians Corrupting the gospel is an age-old tendency Galatians was addressed to the Roman province of Galatia, it would have been written around A.D. 48. The latter seems most likely since it appears from the letter that the Jerusalem council, which occurred around A.D. 49, had not yet convened. How should we read this type of book? There are three additional issues you need to be aware of before opening the book of Galatians. Understanding these matters will equip you to dig through this ancient yet timeless document. Consider them tools that will help you frame your thinking in areas that allow you to appreciate what God is declaring in this letter. First, the book of Galatians is a letter. Ancient letters like ours today had set features. Letters are situational; they deal with specific issues that arise in a particular context. Galatians is no different. In it we see only half of a conversation and must build an understanding of the undisclosed other half. We will do this in our study as we go through it. Letters are also very personal. They are filled with emotion. Paul wrote knowing that Galatian congregations would listen to the letter as it was publicly read. It is emotionally packed. Paul does not shy away from confronting these churches with truth!1 Therefore, read the letter as a passionate, personal letter from God to your situation. The problem it addresses remains relevant today. Second, you need to understand the broader Christian teaching concerning salvation. Salvation is a broad term which when opened up reveals three aspects: justification, sanctification, and glorification. Understanding these concepts will not only help you stay on track with Paul, it will also help you understand your own Christian walk. Justification is being declared righteous. The instant someone believes in Jesus Christ that individual is justified before God. He is declared saved and set free from the penalty of sin. Justification is the past tense of salvation—that point in time when you first believed. Raphael, 1515 Sanctification is the process of being made righteous. As a justified sinner grows by faith in Christlikeness throughout life, he or she becomes more A.D. 40 42 1. Galatians 3:1; 4:19 44 46 Paul’s First Missionary Journey 46–47? 8 48 Jerusalem Council 49? Paul writes Galatians (South Galatian Theory) 48? 50 Galatians Corrupting the gospel is an age-old tendency Survey the Land Field study 1 Glorification is what occurs when one becomes perfectly righteous. It will occur when the believer stands before God in heaven and is actually made holy. The one declared saved who was being saved is now experiencing the culmination of salvation—a sinless life with God. The believer is free from the presence of sin. This is the future tense of salvation. Todd Bolen, www.BiblePlaces.com and more holy. That is, the Spirit of God makes that individual more like Jesus. In this way, the one declared saved is being saved by learning to live free from the power of sin. This is the present tense of salvation— the Christian life. Ruins of Lystra Here are a few stone remains of a structure from the ancient city of Lystra. Little more than an archeological mound of dirt or tel is left on the site where Paul and Barnabas shared the gospel and were stoned, as recorded in Acts 14. It is crucial that you understand these categories. Central to the letter of Galatians are the justification and sanctification aspects of salvation. They are part of the outline of the book. Third, it is important you understand what legalism is and how it relates to Christianity. Legalism is living according to certain standards of conduct in an attempt to gain God’s favor. Israel’s faith was not intended to be legalistic but it became so in practice as the Jews misused the law. According to the Jewish interpretation of the Mosaic Law, what one did or did not do, determined one’s standing before God. This mindset entered the church from the start. Galatians is testimony to it. Christian legalism arises when believers live life as though what they do and don’t do in some way earns them favor before God. In God’s plan of salvation, good works are not to be used as a currency to buy rights to him. Galatians is addressing this specific issue—legalism. Paul will address legalism by demonstrating that both justification and sanctification function through faith. Make sure you read this letter with this in mind. 50 52 54 53–57? 56 58 60 A.D. Paul writes Galatians (North Galatian Theory) 9 S Survey the Land Field study 1 Basic Outline of Galatians Chapters 1–2: Defense of Paul’s Authority Chapters 3–4: Justification: How one becomes a Christian Chapters 5–6: Sanctification: How one lives as a Christian Galatians Corrupting the gospel is an age-old tendency Why did God give us this message? So, why does God want us to explore this letter? It was a letter written by Paul to a particular group of churches long ago. While Paul had no knowledge of us, God does. He wrote Galatians. How he addressed the Galatian problem through Paul’s letter, is how he addresses the same issue today. The Galatian problem is a Christian problem. Your heart is inclined toward living as if God’s salvation needs to be supplemented with your own good works. It shows that same old tendency toward self-salvation that is so offensive to God. Galatians is crucially important to you. With this in mind, here are a few areas of application to think about before going deeper in this letter. Take some time to answer them personally. How do you understand the gospel of Jesus Christ? Think about this question. How have I understood the gospel? Misunderstanding it is a dangerous mistake. Resting on anything other than the true terms of salvation offered by God is to live with false hope. Eternity is at stake! What is the true gospel? Have I believed a counterfeit? Am I ignoring God or even supplementing his provision with my own terms? These are important questions for you to wrestle with. How you have understood the gospel affects the manner in which you live it out. Our study in Galatians will help you. What role do good works play in your life? You are a believer—a Christian—just like the Galatians. So, what drives your Christian lifestyle? Why do you dress up, go to church, and tithe when the offering plate passes by? Why do you serve in Christian ministry? What role do godly, Christian practices like baptism, communion, and tithing play in your life? Why do you do the Christian things you do? Is there any sense in which they make you feel like you deserve God—like you are earning a right to him? Living by a list of do’s and don’ts as if this achieves holiness is not God’s will for your life. There are many things he wants you to do or avoid, but only on his terms. There is such a thing as a Christian lifestyle but how is this lived? We will deal with this in our study. For now, think about whether you are in bondage to a lifestyle that you assume impresses God—as though you’re buying life with him. It’s easy and subtle to live like that. Are there traces of legalism in your life? 10 Galatians Corrupting the gospel is an age-old tendency Survey the Land Discoveries Field study 1 Notes, Observations & Questions __________________________________________ Now that you have completed the survey of the background to the book of Galatians, it’s time to put down your tools and see what you have discovered. This section is designed to help you wrestle with the implications of the text and embed the newly learned information in your mind. Find the questions that suit your group best. Connecting with the community These are discussion questions to help you understand the significance of what you have learned. Do not merely think of them as questions for you as an individual but rather think of them in light of your family, your community, your nation, and your church. 1. Why is it important to understand all of the background to Galatians before reading the actual text? 2. After reading this introductory Field Study, what is the most important reason why we should study this New Testament letter? 3. The Field Notes on Galatians are subtitled, “Living like God is for sale?” What does this mean? How did the Galatians live in such a way? How do Christians live in such a way today? 4. In the introduction to Galatians, there were several biblical examples presented of the human tendency to “self-save.” Which of these examples do you find more enlightening? Are any of these common in your community? Do you recognize any particular tendencies to self-salvation in your own life? 5. Consider your own life. What has been your personal perception regarding eternal salvation and the means to attain it throughout the different stages of your life? If your family members are believers, would they say the same thing about you or themselves? 6. What has been your understanding of the gospel so far? How do you think your church understands the gospel given how the church functions? Are there any activities that run the risk of being turned into legalistic religious acts? For more information about how to use our Discoveries section go to www.SacraScript.org 11 S Survey the Land Galatians Corrupting the gospel is an age-old tendency Field study 1 Notes, Observations & Questions 7. Discuss the meaning of the three terms related to the doctrine of salvation: justification, sanctification, and glorification. How are they related to each other? 8. How is the gospel related to the necessity of good works in the life of the Christian? 9. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 representing a little and 10 representing a lot, rate your own knowledge of the book of Galatians. At the end of Field Study 13, you will have another opportunity to evaluate your knowledge in light of what you have learned. 1 2 a little 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 a lot Probing deeper These exercises are for your continued study of some of the secondary issues in Galatians. They may require you to look at other passages to trace themes that run throughout the rest of Scripture. 1. Explain the relationship between the books of Acts and Galatians. Why is it helpful to refer to Acts when beginning a study of Galatians? 2. Who was considered a “good Jew” in the times of the New Testament? How is this perception related to the issues addressed in the book of Galatians? 3. Who was Paul the apostle? Read some of his background in Acts 7:54–9:31. How does his personal experience before knowing Christ make him an ideal person to address the issues that were causing trouble in the churches of Galatia? Bringing the story to life Learning biblical geography helps us to understand the context of the Bible. Locate each of the following features on the map and label them. See the map on page xiv at the beginning of your Field Notes for help. 12 Galatians Corrupting the gospel is an age-old tendency • • • Survey the Land Countries and Regions: Bithynia, Asia, Lycia, Galatia, Lycaonia, Cappadocia, Cilicia, Syria, and Cyprus. Cities: Myra, Attalia, Perga, Antioch in Pisidia, Lystra, Iconium, Ancyra, Derbe, Paphos, Salamis, Tarsus, Seleucia, and Antioch in Syria. Water: Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea. Field study 1 Notes, Observations & Questions Memorizing the key The key phrase to memorize for the introduction to Galatians is: Corrupting the gospel is an age-old tendency Part of learning the Bible is remembering what the Bible is about and where to find things. Memorizing the key phrases will help you to better understand and apply the key points of each book. 13 S Survey the Land Field study 1 Galatians Corrupting the gospel is an age-old tendency Observation journaling This section will prepare you for Field Study 2. You will read through the first section of the book of Galatians. We have included three types of exercises: some for before you read, some for while you are reading and some for after you have completed the reading. Before you read Discuss and fill in the chart below with what you already know about Paulâ€™s letter to the Galatians. This exercise will help you learn and remember as you encounter new information. You will fill in the new information after you have read the text. What I already know Reading knowledge chart What I have learned What is the problem in the Galatian churches? What is Paul saying about the problem? While you are reading On the following page, we have laid out the biblical text with wide margins so you can mark the text with questions, key terms, notes, and structures. We have removed all of the verse markings so you can read it without distractions and have laid out the text with spacing to help you see how the lines are related. Review the guidelines on The art of active learning section, page xi at the beginning of your Field Notes for some suggestions on reading, learning, and marking the text effectively. 14 Galatians Corrupting p g the gospel g p l is i an age-old g ld ttendency tendd Survey the Land Field study 1 Gal ati a n s 1 : 1 – 1 0 P aul, an apostle— not sent from men nor through the agency of Notes, O Observations & Questions man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— and all the brothers who are with me, To the churches in Galatia: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever! Amen. I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel— not that there really is another gospel, but there are some who trouble you, and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed! As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, let him be accursed! Am I now trying to gain the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a slave of Christ. Summarize the text here 15 S Survey the Land Field study 1 Notes, Observations & Questions Galatians Corrupting the gospel is an age-old tendency After you have read 1. Go back to your reading knowledge chart on page 14 and fill in anything that you have learned while reading through this first section of Galatians. Compare it with what you already knew to see what the text has revealed so far. 2. Journaling is another way to help us learn. You will remember more if you respond to what you have read by writing. Therefore, write out Galatians 1:1–10 from the previous page or from your own Bible into a journal word for word. Then journal your thoughts on what the good news is and why it is good? 3. Now read Galatians 1:1–10 in your own Bible. Continue to reread it each day until you get to Field Study 2. This will reinforce the learning of Scripture and help you in retention. Pray As we learn the Word of God, it is essential that we communicate with him through prayer. First, consider writing out a prayer, psalm, or poem to God about trying to earn God’s favor. Do you see a similar struggle in your own life, community, nation, or church? Respond to him through a carefully thought through prayer that you will write out and pray each day this week. Consider the prayer below as a sample. Try doing this with a family member or small group to make it a corporate prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, I come before you today with gratitude for the opportunity to begin this journey of exploration. Father, I ask that in your grace you would open my eyes to discover the significance of this book for my life. Even now, I recognize that there are things in my life that need to be changed by the teaching of this book. Father I ask you that you would clarify any areas where I tend to seek my own salvation and seek your approval based on my behavior. Father, let your Holy Spirit show me the glorious blessing and joy of the gospel. Help me find my joy and acceptance before you only in the merits and work of your Son my Savior Jesus Christ. Father I ask you that as a result of this study I might grasp more fully the glory of the gospel and that as a result I might be bolder in proclaiming your good news to those around me. Thank you for the good news of life that is available in the Lord Jesus Christ in whose name I come before you, Amen. 16